Splashing around in theology.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

22 Years [and a day!]

I have only thought of it now, but yesterday was the anniversary of a significant event in my life. My spirit-versary, the anniversary of the evening when I “accepted Jesus into my heart as Lord and Savior!”
Whoa! Whoa!
Don’t change the channel folks!
Let me explain!
No… you have not all of a sudden been re-routed to Pat Robertson’s 700-Club or the nearest Benny Hinn charade-fest!
I am being serious here though. On the evening of May 27th, 1984, I heard the Gospel message being preached and I bowed my head, raised my hand, and prayed the prayer. If you think that I am going to make light of that decision, well, I am not.
But at the same time, I am going to take a look at it from the perspective of 22 years later. [Well, 22 years and one day!]
For some readers, the term “accepting Jesus” is a term denoting nothing more than a bunch of religious chicanery, double-speak, or outright nonsense. For some others, there are no connotations that come to mind. The phrase is void of all meaning. For others, it may even constitute blasphemy. Typically though, there are few of us that have not heard the phrase “born-again Christian” at one time or another. You yourself either are one or know someone who claims to be one, am I right?
Well, inasmuch as no one has ever knocked on my door and asked me to hand over my membership card, I still am a born-again Christian myself.
But am I? I mean, really?
Well, if I were put on the Hotseat [wherever this is]… if I were interviewed by the Orthodox Christian…. Interviewer-Guy… probably, fairly soon into it, a big buzzer would sound and the floor would open up underneath me!
I would fail the standard quiz.
Because I have changed in my opinion [my assessment] of a lot of fundamental doctrinal points. [I’ve talked about this before, on godpuddle, so I will not go on about it again].

To the steadfastly orthodox, [in any of the big-three Western religions, really] change [deviation] is not seen as some sort of umm… beneficial option.
In other words, focusing on Christianity, when looking at what it typically MEANS to say “I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior” it may be best to begin with what it does NOT mean.
On the day that one becomes a “born-again Christian” one is NOT saying:
“Today I begin an open-ended spiritual quest wherein I will be allowed to embrace all that resonates most soundly with my own inner being, and will encompass that which most fully enhances my evolving understanding of truth and harmony.”
Quite the opposite is the case, in fact. [Again, what you are about to read is my own personal opinion, not an actual established creed].
But typically, when one accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal savior, what one is saying is:
“Today I begin a boundaried spiritual journey that puts an end to any previous or future spiritual mystery, for Jesus Christ is now my Savior which is to say my All in All, and I shall seek to conform the questions found in my inner being to the answers provided in the Bible, to the exclusion of other spiritual truths that may be available elsewhere.”

Essentially, this is what being a born-again Christian is.
Finding a big huge ANSWER.
Not asking a big huge QUESTION.

The effect of such a decision can be profound, and radically life-changing, as was the case in my own life. This is why I do not belittle it, in any way. Finding big-huge answers can sometimes be the very thing one needs.
And really, there is no religion that does not acknowledge “need" even if expressed as “desire” in its devotee, its adherent, its follower.
Such a decision can contain within it, immense power. Mind-boggling power.
Martyr-making power!
It can be, as with other faith-based decisions one may make, something that only intensifies [grows, builds] as time goes on.
Then again, it may wane.
It may waver, undulate. For most people it most certainly does this.
With time, it may fall away altogether.
With others, it may mutate. Change.

This is what it has done, with me. This last thing.
It has changed.

I wonder sometimes if the catalyst for change [religious change] isn’t plain old insatiable inquisitiveness. The return of the questioning aspect.
What I am wondering, nowadays, is how it is that some people can live the next 100 years of their life, never asking another single question regarding their initial faith-experience. I’m not saying that there is something inherently wrong about living this way.
I am just wondering how it happens.
I am just saying that any faith… any religion that requires us to quit asking questions…. and I mean ANY questions… that religion cannot be my religion.

So…. cut to the chase…. WHAT AM I nowadays, 22 years later?
Am I a person denying my initial faith experience?
Not at all.
Faith-wise, I do not regret a moment of the last 22 years. All of it is a harmonious part of who I am today.
Am I still a born-again Christian?
My answer to that would be….. WHO CARES?

What I am most concerned about nowadays is whether my inner being is at odds with my outer being.
Do I believe what I believe because I believe it, or because I am supposed to believe it? [This is merely another way of asking if what I believe about spirituality and “God” is congruent with the most honest and deepest levels of my inner being.]
This is what I see now, as being of utmost importance.

Someone: “My friend, you could be very content in your inner being and be totally wrong about your overall spiritual state.”
Me: “Perhaps, but that’s for me to worry about. Not you.”

Back then, 22 years-and-a-day ago, the most important word for me was “salvation.”
Nowadays, [and I am not exaggerating] I think it should be a non-word.
Because I can’t know who is saved [even if it’s me] without also knowing who isn’t.



Blogger Dorothy W. said...

Great post. I like your "translations" of that it means and doesn't mean to be "born again" and the idea that saying one is born again can mean having closed off all questioning and change. I wonder, though, about whether one can feel right about things inside and still be in a bad spiritual state. I suppose a person can have a wrong assessment of their inner state, but this strikes me as unlikely, or unlikely to last long, and for me at least, learning to trust my feelings about my inner state was very, very important. One of the most important things I've ever done was to trust my own assessment of my inner state and to believe that even though people might tell me I'm in a bad place, to believe that I'm really not.

5/29/2006 6:58 AM  

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